Preferred Domain: Why Should You Set One?

Steven7 responsesSEO

You may have noticed that a lot of domains can be visited through two different addresses: http://dukeo.com and http://www.dukeo.com. It may not look like a big problem because visitors to both addresses are still reaching your website, but this can have dramatic consequences from a SEO point of view.

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Links from other websites are likes “votes” for your website. The more links you get from quality websites, the more search engines will think that your content is also valuable. Now, what if half of other websites are linking to http://dukeo.com and half are linking to http://www.dukeo.com? Well, the “link love” you are receiving and the PageRank are shared between the two pages, dividing the value of each page.

In order to make sure the link-love goes to a single page, there are two things you need to do.

First of all, log into Google Webmaster Tools (If you aren’t already using these tools, create an account ASAP. These are great tools!) and navigate to “Site Configuration” then “Settings”. There you can set your preferred domain.

The preferred domain is the one that you would like used to index your site’s pages. If you specify your preferred domain as http://www.example.com and we find a link to your site that is formatted as http://example.com, we’ll treat that link as if it was http://www.example.com. In addition, we’ll take your preference into account when displaying URLs in our search results. It may take some time for changes to be reflected in our index.

Once your preferred domain is set in Google Webmaster Tools, you still need to ensure that all your visitors will visit your site through the same address. In order to do that, you can set a 301 redirect in your .htaccess file (located in the root folder of your hosting).

If you want your visitors to visit your site WITH www at the beginning of the address, you should copy this code (edit it to replace dukeo with your own domain) into your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^(.*)\.dukeo\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.dukeo.com/$1 [R=301,L]

On the other hand, if you want your visitors to visit your site WITHOUT www at the beginning of the address, you should copy this code into your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.dukeo.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://dukeo.com/$1 [R=301,L]

This code will redirect your visitors to your preferred domain. They will always see your website address with the same formatting, ensuring link consistency.

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7 Comments

  1. First Website

    Google webmaster tools is definitely a great set of tools that every webmaster should be using!

    1. Agreed! They are a must.

  2. John

    I’m not sure to fully understand because both links are leading to the same page…

    1. First Website

      That’s the point, you don’t want 2 pages to be identical or you could be penalized because of duplicate content. Moreover the 2 pages would share the link-juice.

    2. I couldn’t have said it better :)

  3. Thanks for the details and the code. I actually know of this and have set my prefered domain but have not really understood how to set the redirect. I will definitely try the code.

    1. You’re welcome Chadrack!

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